Amateur and veteran hikers alike clamor to the trails the moment the last snow piles in the north melt into the ground. Hiking is a hobby, a form of exercise, and a fun family outing. There’s nothing quite like following the trail, peering over every corner to see what’s just around the bend. The excitement of not knowing what animals and insects you’ll bump into keeps the smallest child moving ever forward, ready for the next encounter.
A few decades ago, hikers had to map out their trails and lug around a few extra gadgets to ensure their safety. But now, thanks to modern tech like smart phones and GPS devices, we can wander and know just where we are at almost any given moment. There’s something freeing about getting lost only to locate yourself as a small dot on a big map full of mystery. Just the same, there are extra steps you can take to ensure you remain safe, have fun, and create a memorable experience on the trail.
Start with Gadgets
Though reception can limit cell phone data in certain areas, bringing your smart phone is always a good idea. Trying to get away from the constant chatter of your everyday life? Turn it on airplane mode when you’re not using it. But just by having this device on hand, you have a powerful tool that can send calls or texts for help and pin point your exact location, or at least while in range of cell service. So what do you do if you don’t have cell service? GPS phone or tracker.
GPS phones ensure you can locate yourself when cell service is unavailable. But it also protects you if you find yourself set off from the trail. Maybe you followed that adorable beaver into the woods to get a better picture from a safe distance and found your feet far from the trail when you looked up. GPS phones and trackers will give you and your loved ones peace of mind before you hit the trail.
If nothing else, and just in case your electronic gadgets’ batteries die, packing a compass is a tried and true method for navigating hiking trails. Being able to tell directions can be the difference between life and death, especially during cold nights in spring or fall.
Trails and Apps
Voyageurs National Park has trails that range from easy to difficult. Rocks, narrow pathways, bogs, and more can pose challenges to hikers as they make their way further into the trail. The National Park Service created a list of trails, breaking them down by location, level of difficulty, time it will take to complete, and notes that better describe what you can expect.
But remember that smart phone we mentioned earlier? Before you set out on a hike, you can download numerous apps that detail the route, level of difficulty, and even help you make challenges to outdo yourself or your friends. Some apps allow users to review trails, providing their personal insight and experience for various trails so other users can better prepare. Here are a few of REI, the well-known outfitter’s, favorite apps for hikers.
Now that you’ve prepared for a safe hike and you’ve got your route picked out, all that’s left to pack is a filling snack, your favorite hiking boots, and a camera (or your smartphone that doubles as a camera). Happy trails!
Come March, who isn’t itching to get out on the water, soak up the sun, and float the day away while waiting for the big one? This month, we celebrate the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere but it might not feel or look like it. Ice still covers the lakes, the threat of late winter snow storms looms over us, and the temps aren’t quite warm enough to bury your winter coat in the back of your closet yet. But just as winter starts to retreat, migrating season begins for walleye making their way to spawning grounds and that means it’s prime season for many anglers looking to catch the big one.
Anglers migrate to the north every spring for one big reason: catch-and-release season. Fishers with cabin fever can delight knowing that they don’t have to wait for the May fishing opener in Minnesota to get out on the water and start casting. This catch-and-release season is in effect from March 1 to April 14 on Rainy River. With anglers migrating from all over the region for the extended season, here’s what you need to know:
Ever heard the old adage “Leave a place better than you found it?” Year round, Rainy Lake welcomes visitors in masses. Winter months bring visitors that pride themselves in hardiness and bravery against the cold. Spring brings fishing opener enthusiasts in troves. Summer months bring families looking to rent houseboats and forge memories not soon forgotten. Fall brings hunters and foliage fans ready to admire the beauty of the changing seasons. There are visitors that know the hard work it takes to keep this place pristine and magical all 365 days of the year. As visitors continue to make Rainy Lake a return destination, the bonds that form become harder to break and full-time residents grow fond of the familiar faces that become forever friends.
The natural landscape and wildlife of this region make this place a sight to behold, but it’s the residents that give their time and devotion to a remote corner of the region to ensure that this place never loses its wonder. For visitors that want to make a difference wherever they go, there’s an upcoming event that allows participants to leave a lasting impact on Rainy Lake while enjoying an activity you already love.
12th Annual Speed Run Against Cancer
Got the need for speed? The 12th Annual Speed Run Against Cancer is a fantastic way to raise money for a great, local cause. Participants race snowmobiles to see who’s fastest for a chance at winning one of five prizes. Get ready for roaring engines, cheering spectators, and record speeds. Come dressed for the weather and be careful of other riders if traveling to the event by snowmobile.
The best part: proceeds from this event go toward a local charity that helps cover gas costs for local residents needing to travel for cancer treatment.
Preparing for the Big Race
Need some practice before your sign up? There is a plethora of well-groomed trails to discover. Visitors have been traveling to Rainy Lake for years to ride the trails and sightsee the beauty of the north under a thick blanket of white snow. Voyageur Trail Society keeps up-to-date trail conditions on their site here throughout the winter months.
If you’d like to find some straight shots or wide open space, check the trail map. We’ve prepared a checklist to review before you get on your sled to ensure you stay safe and are prepared for the conditions.
Where to Stay
The event takes place at Thunderbird Lodge, but reservations can fill up fast. If you’re planning on riding into the event via sled, there are many lodging options near Rainy Lake that you can choose from. Check out our site for alternatives consisting of hotels and motels to resorts, cabins, and bed and breakfasts.